Universiteit Leiden

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Tuning in to star-planet interactions at radio wavelengths

Low-mass main-sequence stars like our Sun are continuous sources of outflowing hot magnetised plasma. In the case of the Sun, this is known as the solar wind, whereas for other stars they are called stellar winds.

Kavanagh, R.D.
15 November 2022

These types of stars comprise 93% of all stars in our galaxy, and also host the bulk of all exoplanets discovered to date. Therefore, understanding their wind outflows and how they interact with the planets they host is crucial to assessing the long-term evolution of planetary atmospheres, which in turn determines their potential to support life as we know it. The interactions between stellar winds and planets can also produce signals which could be detected with current-generation telescopes.Current measurements of the winds of low-mass main-sequence stars are limited, and have only been successful in a handful of cases. However, by coupling state-of-the-art magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) models of stellar winds with observational constraints, 3-dimensional snapshots of the wind environments around planet-hosting stars can be obtained. In this thesis, I utilise such models to explore the winds of these stars, and predict the potentially-observable signatures that may arise from their interactions with orbiting planets.

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